Stroke and cancer projects among 12 to share £18m funding

Software that can automate the measurement of stroke damage and a fluorescent dye that could help doctors distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue in the bowel are two projects to receive a share of £18 million of Government funding into medical research.

They are two of 12 new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies to benefit from the latest round of the Biomedical Catalyst (BMC), a joint programme run by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Government's Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board.

BMC grants are available to UK academics and small to medium-sized businesses seeking to commercialise the fruits of their research and deliver patient benefit.

Glasgow-based Ohmedics will receive £759,000 for developing a device that patients can use at home to monitor for lung infections caused by bacteria and fungi. It is hoped it could help minimise lung damage and improve the quality of life for patients with chronic lung diseases, as well as help reduce the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics by GP surgeries.

Brainomix, a start-up of the University of Oxford, has developed the medical imaging software e-ASPECTS to automate the measurement of stroke damage, and will benefit from £633,500. The technology will automate the procedure to measure tissue at risk and identify patients who can benefit from mechanical reopening of the brain artery. Around 110,000 people suffer a stroke in England every year, but as mechanical clot removal costs up to £23,000 per patient, patient selection is crucial for its adoption.

A further £634,000 will also fund University of Oxford research into a fluorescent dye which it is hoped will help spot cancers earlier.

Minister for life sciences George Freeman said: "The UK's healthcare industry has a worldwide reputation for excellence. By providing early support to these latest treatment and diagnosis developments, we are not only going to potentially help improve or save lives, we are helping businesses grow and boost the UK's productivity."

Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, said: "This round of awards is a further demonstration of the exceptional science coming out of the vibrant academic and industrial research base of the UK.

"The continued success of the Biomedical Catalyst illustrates the value of dedicated support to ensure that this country can rapidly exploit world-leading science for the benefit of patients and the UK economy."

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